Siemens' interest in electricity began with while laying telegraph lines for the Prussian army.  In 1847, he set up the firm of Siemens Brothers in partnership with brother Wilhelm, who went to England to represent the firm and work on his own inventions.  In 1851, Siemens Brothers laid a deep-sea telegraph cable from England to France, the first international connection. Many other cables were laid down, and the firm also developed high electric tensions for long-distance telegraph lines.

Siemens saw the potential for producing equipment geared toward the new electrical industry.  Later, Siemens Brothers joined with Johann Halske to create the electrical firm of Siemens & Halske.  In 1965 the company is renamed Siemens Brothers.

In 1866, Werner discovered and applied the dynamo-electrical principle. Drawing on English physicist Michael Faraday's work on electricity around 1830, this principle is based on the fact that magnetism and electricity can be converted into each other.  Though others had devised similar inventions, the Siemens firm led the way in developing dynamos for electricity generation.

Siemens & Halske manufactured the first successful electric train, which in 1879 was exhibited at the Berlin International Exhibition. From telegraphs, cable laying, dynamos, and railroad equipment, the company moved into electric lighting.

In 1880 Siemens Brothers became a public company under the name of Siemens Brothers & Co. Ltd.

At the outbreak of World War 1, on 14th August 1914, all German assets were confiscated by the UK Government and from that point onwards all contact with the German Siemens was severed.  In 1917 the Custodian of Enemy Property sold Siemens Bros. to C. Birch Crisp & Co., a financial syndicate from London.  In 1919 Birch Crisp disposed of the company to English Electric Ltd.

A.E.I. purchased Siemens Brothers in 1955 thus owning four independent lamp businesses: B.T.H., Ediswan, Metrovick and Siemens.  In subsequently dropping these names AEI's lamp business suffered badly.

See the History of AEI

Précis History

Wilhelm (Sir William) Siemens goes to England on behalf of his brother Werner to sell the rights to Werner's patented gold-plating technique.

A Siemens & Halske sales agency is established under William's direction.


William takes over the running of the English business, which primarily involves the selling of water meters.


The Londoner agency is converted into an independent company known as Siemens, Halske & Co. with its own workshops.


A cable factory is built in Woolwich.


The company is renamed Siemens Brothers.


Siemens Brothers lays the Russia to Teheran section of the Indo-European telegraph line.


Siemens Brothers laid their first Atlantic Cable this year.  The cable steamer 'Faraday' was built specially for this purpose.  See www.atlantic-cable.com/Cables/CableTimeLine/index1850.htm for more information.


Siemens Brothers is converted into a stock company called Siemens Brothers & Co. Ltd.


An order is received to supply electric lighting for the Savoy Theatre in London.


Siemens Brothers Dynamoworks Ltd. is founded in Stafford.


An incandescent lamp factory is built in Dalston.

The decision is made to expand into the business of telephone apparatus manufacture.

The t
elephone manufacturing organisation is established.


The shares of the English Siemens company are confiscated by the British government.


Contacts are re-established; a cooperation agreement is concluded.

A.E.I. purchases the company.


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Last revised: November 26, 2022